The Alberni Valley Bulldogs will be hoping the Victoria Grizzlies have cooled off a touch when the two teams play tonight (Feb. 13) at The Q Centre.
The Bulldogs – who had been surging in January but got knocked down a peg with a pair of B.C. Hockey League losses to the Grizzlies – face a Victoria team coming off a pair of lopsided defeats at home. The Grizzlies went 0 for two last weekend with a 7-1 loss on Sunday to Langley and a 6-2 loss two days earlier to the Vernon Vipers.
On the other hand, Alberni (25-20-2-3) has posted three straight wins to pull back into a third-place tie in the Island Division with Victoria (22-18-1-10) at 55 points, with a game in hand.
The Bulldogs and Grizzlies know each other well, having played three times since Jan. 21. Alberni won the first of those games at home by a score of 4-3, then proceeded to lose 8-3 and 4-0 more recently in Colwood.
Neither wants to wind up in fourth place in the division and be forced to play Nanaimo in the opening round of the playoffs.
After tonight’s game the Grizzlies have just six games remaining in the regular season. They host Prince George tomorrow then head back to Port Alberni for a critical game next Wednesday at Weyerhaeuser Arena.
Last weekend saw the Grizzlies start well then fade in both games.
They outshot Langley 16-8 in the opening period and held them to a 1-1 score, but only managed 10 shots the rest of the way. Garrett Forster scored in the loss.
Against the Vipers, a fast and spirited opening frame saw the Grizzlies’ Kevin Massy score in the dying seconds to make it 1-1, and Brett Gruber made it 2-1 just 59 seconds into the second period. But the Vipers took command with four straight goals in the second, three of which came on the power play.